Herceptin Warnings and Precautions

It is important to understand the Herceptin warnings and precautions prior to taking the drug to help ensure a safe and successful treatment process. For example, Herceptin can increase the risk of congestive heart failure in some people who take the medication. Herceptin warnings and precautions also include the safety of taking the drug when pregnant or breastfeeding and potential drug interactions.

Herceptin: What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider?

You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking Herceptin® (trastuzumab) if you have:
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
  • Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
  • Breastfeeding.
Make sure to tell your healthcare provider about all of the medicines you take, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Specific Herceptin Warnings and Precautions

Some of the warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to taking Herceptin include the following:
  • Herceptin can increase your risk of heart problems, including:


Your healthcare provider should monitor you closely to make sure you are not developing heart problems (see Cardiotoxicity and Herceptin for more information).

  • Herceptin can cause "infusion reactions," during or just after a dose of Herceptin. Some symptoms of an infusion reaction include:


    • Fever
    • Chills
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Pain
    • Headaches
    • Dizziness
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Rashes
    • Low blood pressure (hypotension). 
Most of the time, infusion reactions are uncomfortable but not dangerous. However, severe allergic reactions can occur.
  • Herceptin can cause a variety of lung problems. Let your healthcare provider know immediately if you develop shortness of breath or any other breathing problems.


  • Herceptin can worsen neutropenia caused by chemotherapy medications. Neutropenia is a low level of certain white blood cells that can increase the risk of infection.


  • You must be tested to make sure that your tumor overexpresses HER2 (that your tumor cells have a high concentration of the HER2 receptors). While HER2 testing may be expensive, Herceptin cannot be prescribed without the test.
  • Herceptin can interact with other medications (see Herceptin Drug Interactions).
  • Herceptin is considered a pregnancy Category D medication. This means that it is probably unsafe for use during pregnancy. Talk to your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of taking the drug during pregnancy (see Herceptin and Pregnancy).
  • It is not known if Herceptin passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to taking the drug (see Herceptin and Breastfeeding).
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